Chen Chen

The grackles flap dark & showy into my sleep.

I know they are only my synapses sparking pretty hallucinations but still they flaunt their rough & many consonants.

Kellogg’s! Lacuna! Grief counseling!

These are the sounds they like to make.

Then they ask about my mother & father, whether I’ve spoken to them lately.

In this way, they are just like my boyfriend.

I tell them my cell service is terrible, that I often think of switching, & then the company texts me, Thank you for being a valued member of our community!

The grackles say to speak more slowly. They are still learning human.

It starts to snow & I wish I lived alone, in Paris.

Or maybe in my parents’ house, without my parents.

My boyfriend’s mother lives in a box.

My boyfriend lives with his mother in slow, not quite stories during breakfast.

I wish I wasn’t tired of his sadness.

But I’d rather look at the snow, falling like silver confetti, another pretty thing my mind can make.

I wonder if I’d be a better person if I learned to speak bird.

The grackles say I should learn to pick up the phone.

I ask for a different assignment.

Call, the grackles say. Call back.

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities.